Written By: Josh Crocker – Follow Josh on Twitter @jccrocker
– Clay v MIA +4.5 –
Clay has one of the better matchups on the slate this week facing a Miami Dolphins defense that has been allowing TE’s in the last 5 weeks to score 4.5 points above their averages. Those numbers are a bit skewed by the fact that they just allowed Dennis Pitta to have the game of a lifetime catching 2 TD’s, but I don’t mind that that happened. The Dolphins have also allowed Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry to catch a TD in one game, and it seems that teams that are intent to target the TE have been able to do so. That has something to do with the fact that the Dolphins are 3rd and 4th by DVOA against WR1’s and 2’s.
Since Clay missed week 13 to become a Daddy, he’s been involved in the offense being targeted 6 and 7 times in the last two weeks catching a TD in each. If Watkins and Goodwin are covered up, it will probably be “Other Bills WR” and Clay that see a lot of the opportunities. When the Bills are in the redzone, I think it’s fair to say that running the ball in either with a back or Tyrod is plan A, but Clay has more red-zone targets than either of the Bills WR’s.
The game probably won’t be exceedingly high scoring, and the Bills are favored to win with only 22.75 points. If they can make 3 trips to the redzone I think his 22.7% red-zone target market share gives him a pretty good chance to pull in a score.There’s currently an expected 53% chance of “light” rain in this game, but the number does go down as the game goes on. It’s also expected to be quite windy with winds already called on to be at 14 mph. I think it only increases the need for a short passing game and the chances of a good game for Clay.
– Jack Doyle @ OAK –
The primary reason to play Doyle is to get a piece of this Colts offense in a great matchup against the Raiders. This Colts offense, that just put up 41 against a stout Vikings defense, now travels to Oakland to play against a below average secondary. Indianapolis’ last game was interesting because of Gore’s usage. He saw 26 carries in this contest, amassing 100 yards for only the second time on the season. With that amount of running volume Luck’s attempts were a little more limited at 28. In this close to worst case scenario for a TE, Doyle was still involved and was targeted 4 times, catching all four. Dwayne Allen seemed to be called on more to block, and the biggest problem for Doyle on the day was Erik Swoope who sucked away 3 targets including a TD. Doyle is still the snap leader for TE’s on this team and I wouldn’t let Swoope be too big of a deterrent in what looks to be a pretty favorable situation.
When the Raiders have faced good TE’s, they’ve been beaten by both Travis Kelce, CJ Fiedorowicz, and repeatedly so by Hunter Henry. I see Doyle as a solid player who is more than capable of contributing.Oakland is allowing 1.6 passing TD’s per game, which puts them 22nd in the league (least to most). Opponents are passing against them at nearly a 60% clip, I would imagine mostly because of scoring effects. The Raiders are a very capable offense and teams have had to throw to keep up. The Colts aren’t known for their defense and it’s entirely possible that they’ll find themselves behind on the road and need to air it out, maybe to a TE.
This week Vegas has picked this game to be the highest scoring of the week. The Colts are getting 4 points on the road, and it bears repeating that negative game scripts favor pass-catchers like Doyle. The Colts are expected to score 24.5. That means 3 or 4 trips to the red-zone where Doyle is seeing about 1 in 6 targets. He should get a chance for a catch near the endzone from the QB who has thrown 27 TD’s.
– Gresham at SEA or Fiedorowicz v CIN –
These are the two options I’d look at next on this list if Doyle and Clay cannot be had. I like that Gresham has the TE job more or less to himself in Arizona, with only Fells doing much in the passing game as a TE. However, we probably shouldn’t discount the plethora of WR’s there who are competing for the same targets in the Cardinals’ passing game. Fiedorowicz is “spliiting work” with Griffin, but is still out-targeting Gresham. Gresham has continuity at the QB position, while in Houston if we are to believe what we are told Tom Savage will be starting in the place of Brock Osweiler. In Savage’s first game Fiedorowicz was in concussion protocol and Griffin had a solid outing. It remains to be seen how the TE targets will be divided between himself and Griffin with the new QB. Gresham has a very tough matchup against a Seahawks team that held Olsen to 30 yards and only allowed 35 to the late Robert Gronkowski, although he did get a TD. The Bengals are certainly the softer matchup of the two. The Texans also have a better implied total than the Cards, and trips to the scoring side of the field certainly help TE’s. If you think Savage will find CJ to be as useful as the previous QB, I think I’d lean that way. I am concerned about Griffin, but on the whole I would have say that he’s less of a problem than all of the other targets in Arizona.
Written By: Josh Crocker – Josh can be found on Twitter @jccrocker